How to use 划算 (huásuàn) in Mandarin Chinese: to be a bargain
To talk about bargains and good deals in Chinese, you can use the word 划算 (huásuàn). This word has various meanings including “to calculate”, “to weigh up”, “worthwhile”, “economical”, “to get one's money's worth” etc.
We're interested in the ones about things being good value or economical here. Also, don't confuse 划算 with 算上！
The most important thing to remember about 划算 is that it is a verb, not a noun. The English word “bargain” is a noun, so English speakers sometimes misuse 划算 as a noun too.
Getting more precise, 划算 is actually a stative verb. Chinese is full of these, and they are pretty much just adjectives that behave grammatically like verbs. In other words, 划算 should go in verb slots in sentences.
Let's have a look at a few different uses for 划算 and how the word fits into a sentence grammatically.
Bargains with 划算
You can talk about things being bargains with 划算, but remember that it's a verb and not a noun like “bargain”. You could think of 划算 as being something like “bargain-y” or “bargain-ish” to help you remember how to use it in a sentence.
Notice that 划算 means “bargain” specifically in the sense of something being a good trade or a good deal.
Getting your money's worth with 划算
You can also use 划算 to mean “be worthwhile” or “pay well”. Really this is the same meaning as above: getting something suitable in return for something else.
Sometimes this usage of 划算 can be a little bit tricky to translate into English. Just remember that it means “pays”, “is worthwhile” or “get your money's worth” depending on the situation.
Being economical with 划算
Finally, another related use of 划算: “to be economical”. This is about making better decisions regarding spending or trading. Some examples:
Notice how all of the uses of 划算 described here all have the same basic meaning: getting a good deal or using your money in the best way. Also notice how all of these uses fit into the sentences as verbs.
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